Motorcycles are great fun to ride, but they can also be dangerous. Accidents happen, and when you are on a motorbike you are vulnerable to very serious injuries. As a motorcycle rider, you should always observe the proper principles of safe riding to reduce your chances of getting hurt. It’s a very good idea to take motorcycle safety courses, as they provide invaluable strategies for saying safe on the road. They may also qualify you for lower Calgary motorcycle insurance rates.
Always make full use of motorcycle safety equipment. It goes without saying that helmets must be worn (otherwise you may incur a fine from the Calgary police!), but it is also recommended that you wear:
- Protective leather garments, including coats and pants, designed specifically for motorcycle riders (“faux” leather alternatives are available if you’d prefer a synthetic product).
- Strong yet flexible riding boots.
- Weatherproof, gauntlet-style gloves.
- Brightly coloured or reflective clothing, and reflective tape on helmets.
These items dramatically improve your chances of being seen on the road, and therefore surviving an accident and minimizing injury. Bike armour is also recommended, particularly if you engage in high-speed riding.
On the Road: Riding Strategies
In addition to leaving riders vulnerable, motorcycles are less visible on the road than cars and trucks. Following safe riding strategies can help you recognize and avoid risks while maximizing your visibility to other drivers.
On roads with two lanes moving in opposite directions, stay in the left side of your lane to allow for oncoming drivers to see you. This is called the “blocking position”. Driving in the right side of the lane may tempt vehicle drivers to try to “share” your lane, or even pass. Driving in the centre of a lane is never recommended because this is where fluids, dust, and debris tends to gather.
When driving on a road with two or more lanes moving in the same direction, it’s advisable to stay out of the middle lane altogether, as that way you only have to be aware of potential hazards coming from one side. When driving in the far left lane, keep your bike to the right-hand side, and when driving in the far right lane, keep your bike to the left-hand side. Both positions will allow you some time to react if a driver misses you in their blind spot.
Do your best to stay out of blind spots altogether, though. Cars have blind spots in the front and the rear, located at a three-quarter angle from the driver’s point of view. Always be aware of these areas, and never linger in them. Also, never operate under the assumption that you are visible to a nearby driver; you may not be.
Stay at a safe following distance from traffic ahead of you by following the “three-second rule.” Choose a landmark, and note when the car ahead of you passes it. You should pass the landmark at least three seconds after the car. This ensures you’ll have enough time to react if the car ahead of you brakes suddenly or makes any other type of unexpected maneuver.
And if you’re riding as part of a group, you should create a staggered formation to help protect everyone’s safety. Do this by alternating lane positions between the motorcycles in the group, maximizing the amount of space between each rider. However, be courteous to other drivers and avoid spreading out across every lane in a multi-lane road so cars can pass your group if they so choose.
When passing, never overtake more than one vehicle at a time, and never pass if your view of oncoming traffic is obstructed in any way. Groups of riders should not attempt to pass vehicles together.
Finally, follow the rules of the road. This means:
- Obey posted speed limits at all times
- Obey all posted signage
- Don’t try to run yellow lights — many motorcycle accidents occur at intersections
Safety Courses Can Qualify You for Lower Motorcycle Insurance Rates
Taking a motorcycle safety course is a good idea regardless of your experience level. It never hurts to brush up on the principles of safe riding, and you might be able to get a reduced motorcycle insurance rate to boot. In Alberta, motorcycle safety courses are available through the Canadian Traffic Education Centre, the Alberta Safety Council, Alberta Motorcycle Training and Edmonton Motorcycle Toy Run, among others.
At Calgary’s Lane’s Insurance, we want to help you stay safe while enjoying the freedom of your motorcycle. We offer motorcycle insurance plans to riders of all skill levels, and we’ll be happy to discuss your specific needs in detail. You can get a free, no-obligation motorcycle insurance quote online, or by calling us at 1-888-330-9729.